There are plenty of barroom experts and sofa cognoscenti in Oxford ready to splash a bit of scorn on any new artistic venture. It’s that kind of city; where the weight of the past has the power to smother the present. When the new Oxford Jazz Festival was announced some suspected the organisers were chancing their luck. But the Easter weekend, with venues all over the city bubbling with music for a full four days, provoked a different story. Not only was there a programme of international, national and local musicians, but music lovers turned out to shake the timbers of most venues with their appreciation.

The festival was pushed out in style on Thursday by Sarah Gillespie with Gilad Atzmon showing off his accordian skills at the Corner Club followed in the evening by the great Bobby Wellins playing to a packed Spin. When Jazzelation launched their new CD at St Michael at the Northgate on Saturday midday one of the band looked out at the crowded pews with evident surprise. Later the same day Ecletctia! pulled in another full house to the same unlikely venue. Meanwhile, at the diminutive Half Moon and at Joe’s in Summertown a series of contrasting gigs rocked these relatively obscure venues.

At the North Wall on Saturday 3bpm were feted by fans and in the evening the wonderfully individual Gwyneth Herbert pulled in a good crowd despite some inaccurate programme information. On Friday the Jazzfactor competition for local school-age musicians gave youth groups a very welcome chance to show their skills in public and for one band to come away a winner.

Of course there were a few weaker moments and the programming of the main paying events had been drawn up with an emphasis on vocalists, which hardly reflects the reality of the jazz scene. Nevertheless the festival organisers, Max Mason, Paul Jefferies and Alissa Robinson, have blocked out Easter 2010 for the next Oxford Jazz Festival and are already looking for sponsors to support what could become another Oxford event.